Diet Friendly Sausage Pasta Bake

This super simple and quick sausage pasta bake tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn’t. Perfect for a midweek dinner for the whole family.

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This Sausage Pasta Bake is such a creamy, cheesy bowl of deliciousness, you’ll never believe it’s diet friendly!

Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner | thehecticcook.com

I’m such a cliche. It’s the new year and I’ve joined a diet club. This is not a new thing. I’m back at Slimming World having joined and rejoined on at least a half dozen occasions. But I’m determined this time. This time I’m going to stick with it. Really. No, really. So at the moment, meals in the HC household are of the healthier persuasion. Well, ok, I’m still feeding the kids macaroni cheese and cheese & bean pastry pie on a fairly regular schedule. But generally we’re eating stuff that can be made SW friendly like spaghetti carbonara (yes really) and pork chow mien.

Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner | thehecticcook.com

To make this process a little more interesting, I’ve also discovered a couple of really good food blogs that are dedicated to Slimming World recipes. One of which is Two Chubby Cubs. Their site is full of really good recipes that not only sound tasty, but are tasty. They’re also bloody hysterical. As long as you’ve got a sense of humour and aren’t easily offended, I’d highly recommend checking them out, if only for the witty repartee. This recipe for Sausage Pasta Bake is a take on their One Pot Sausage Gnocchi Bake. I like gnocchi, but it’s easier for me to substitute it with pasta so the kids will eat it.

Now, if you’re at all familiar with the Slimming World diet, you’ll most likely have heard of Quark. It’s hailed somewhat like a food from the gods. I never quite got it. Until I added it to a pasta sauce. It gives a creaminess you’d get from adding cream cheese, but without the raised eyebrows at SW class. It’s added in this recipe, but if you’re not fussed about the calories, just use cream cheese.

Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner | thehecticcook.com

The sausages are your call. If you’re trying to be healthy, there are plenty of fat-reduced sausages on the market. Personally I’ve found I like Porky Lights (again, if you know anything about SW, you’ll know what a cliche that is). But use whatever sausage you like. I’ve also made this recipe with tuna and chicken, so you can be even more saintly.

This pasta bake has become a staple now in our house. It stays inline with my effort to shift the second belly, and the kids like it. If I’m ever going to succeed in cutting the flab, I need meals like this, that the whole family can eat. But even if you’re born with a metabolism faster than Usain Bolt and couldn’t give two hoots about eating healthier (I hate you, I really do), this is a really tasty dish that is well worth a go, especially for a midweek quick and simple dinner.

Ingredients

400g uncooked pasta
6 sausages, meat removed from casings
Spray oil (or a tbsp of oil if you’re feeling decadent)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or 2 tsp garlic puree)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp basil (I use frozen chopped basil, it has all the flavour and is so convenient – dried basil is a bit of a waste of time to be honest)
salt & pepper 
75g quark
75g grated cheese to sprinkle on top (I cheat and buy a mozzarella/cheddar mix from the supermarket which is brilliant for melting on pasta bakes)

1. Boil a large pan of (well) salted water and add your pasta. Cook until soft (I don’t like my pasta al dente, so cook it however you like it).
2. Meanwhile, spray a pan with oil over a medium heat, and add the sausage meat, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook until browned through.
3. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, then add the tomatoes, basil and seasoning. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, to let the flavours evolve a wee bit. Taste, and add more seasoning if required.
4. Stir through the quark.
5. Once the pasta has cooked, drain it, and then add it to the meat sauce. Stir through.
6. Pour the pasta into an ovenproof dish and top with the cheese. Pop under a hot grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
7. Serve.

This will serve a large family. Simply alter how much pasta you cook, depending on the amount of people you’re cooking for. Hopefully this will appeal to most folk, whether you need to lose some poundage or are just looking for a tasty midweek supper. Give it a go this week for dinner. I promise you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Happy cooking!

Spaghetti Carbonara (A Lighter Version)

So the weekend has been and gone. We had friends staying with us, so there was a certain amount of ‘entertaining’ – read into that, lots of food, and equally lots of drink. In fact we did very little this weekend apart from eat and drink! A couple of meals I’ll blog later this week, including a very yummy pudding.

I’m getting very used to photographing everything I cook. I’ll be taking photos of my breakfast next, just out of habit. I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on how to photograph food, how to make it look more appetising, hoping it might help. I’ve advanced from my phone to the Husband’s fancy schmancy DSLR. He put it on a setting, told me I could make the backgrounds ‘fuzzy’ by twiddling a knob (ooh er), and let me go. Hopefully my photos have improved at least a smidge? I will add that the Husband is being very patient, considering he is having to wait some time to get his meals at the minute, some of which are a tad cooler than they would have been, had I not spent at least 5 minutes trying to get the ‘perfect’ shot. I’m telling him it’ll all be worth it when I’m making millions from the recipe books and tv deals :D.

So this carbonara is a major fixture in the HC house. It’s one of the few meals I know we can sit down to as a family, and everyone will eat. Clear plates all round. It’s a winner. It’s actually a Slimming World recipe I found years ago, thus it’s pretty low fat into the bargain. And it’s (honestly!) really quick and simple. You can make it with as little as four ingredients – I used six as I love mushrooms and the kids love peas.

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Ingredients

360g spaghetti
4-5 rashers of smoked back bacon, diced (fat removed if you like)
60g parmesan, grated
3-5 eggs, depending on size
frozen peas
mushrooms, sliced

Note: For pasta, I tend to use 50g per child, and 80g per adult. I find with this amount of spaghetti, the quantities above work for us. However, the bacon, cheese and veg (if using) are all flexible. Use as much or as little as you wish. I used 5 eggs as they were small, but for bigger eggs you’d get away with fewer (i.e. 3 large, 4 medium).

1. Boil the spaghetti in a large pan of salted water until it’s as soft as you like it. Right before you go to sieve/drain it, add the frozen peas (this stops them from overcooking and keeps them lovely and fresh).

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2. Whilst the pasta is cooking, break the eggs into a bowl/jug and whisk until mixed. Add the cheese and season as desired (I tend to only add a bit of pepper here as the bacon is pretty salty already).

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3. Add a little oil to a wok/large pan and fry the bacon – I tend to use a wok as it holds everything once you’ve added in the spaghetti.

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4. Add the mushrooms if using and fry until cooked/soft.

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5. Once both the pasta and bacon/mushrooms are cooked, turn the heat off completely (both pans), sieve the pasta (with peas), and add it to your bacon. On top of that, chuck on the egg/cheese mix.

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6. Stir this into the pasta, getting it all good and covered. This can be easier with a couple of forks. The egg mixture will cook, simply from the heat of the pasta.

Note: if you’re using an issue military cooker, remove the wok/pan completely from the ring you were using, as it’ll still be hotter than the sun and might scramble the egg.

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If you’re a creamy carbonara lover, this may not be quite to your taste (although I guess you could throw some cream into the egg/cheese mixture before you chuck it on the pasta). But if you’re after a lighter version, one that is lovely and cheesy, but not blatantly trying to clog your arteries, then this could be for you.

I’m sold, mainly because my kids devour it and look for more. That’s good enough for me.

Happy cooking!

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